Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby still has not returned to the ice since last playing on Dec. 5, and the lack of an update on his concussion symptoms from the team has raised the level of concern over the Kid's NHL future.
We've gone about two weeks since the last update on Crosby's health, and although it's believed his current situation isn't as bad as the symptoms he was experiencing in January, there still needs to be a high level of caution in deciding when he can return.
The possibility of him not returning at all this season has Penguins fans worried, and maybe even some of his teammates as well.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it," D Matt Niskanen told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "There is always that scare, guys out there … who probably aren't coming back. It's always a possibility.
"I try not to get too caught up in it. I don't ask any questions. The team, the doctors and Sid will do what is best, health-wise."
If Crosby isn't going to return this season, does Pittsburgh need to make a trade?
Head injuries have been a huge focus in the NHL this season, and rightfully so. The league has seen far too many stars miss time this year with concussions.
Regarding Crosby's situation, Pittsburgh should be quite concerned, because without Crosby, the Penguins won't go near the Stanley Cup.
Sure, they have stars such as forwards Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury, but Crosby changes the whole dynamic of the team and makes everyone around him so much better.
His playmaking ability, as well as his scoring touch, adds so much skill to the Penguins lineup. You can see it clearly when he plays; the offense is much better and the team's power play is one of the most feared in the league.
The Penguins currently sit third in the Atlantic division behind the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers, two teams that are better than them without Crosby. You could even make the case that with Crosby, the Rangers are still the better team.
What are the Penguins options to alleviate some of the concerns over Crosby's future? Well, a trade would be a risky move, one that doesn't need to be made right now.
Can the Penguins make the Stanley Cup Final without Crosby?
Pittsburgh is seventh in the NHL in goals per game and ninth in goals against. The team is fine as constructed right now, but if they are unable to gain ground in the division, then a move should be made.
There are stars who could be on the trading block this season such as Jarome Iginla, Zach Parise, and Alexander Semin to name a few. There is talent to make the team better, and if Crosby won't return, the Penguins have to acquire another star.
Despite the uncertainty over Crosby's future, some Penguins players have remained upbeat about the team's performance this season.
"We have a guy right now who is on top of the game," RW Pascal Dupuis said, referring to center Evgeni Malkin. "You've got the big deal, James Neal, putting the puck in the net. You've got Kuny (left wing Chris Kunitz ) helping Geno (Malkin) on that line. We're doing a lot of really good things."
The concern over Crosby's future is growing in Pittsburgh, and the lack of updates isn't helping the fans' anxiety over the situation, but there isn't a need for the team to make a drastic move just yet.
The Penguins will make the playoffs with or without Crosby, but if it becomes clear he won't return this season, then the team must acquire another star, or their chances of winning another Stanley Cup will severely diminish.